CD Review: Blue Rodeo, “The Things We Left Behind”

Written by CD Reviews, Music

Blue Rodeo - Things We Left BehindDespite the fact that it’s a band that’s been plying its craft for 25 years, mention the name Blue Rodeo to anyone other than a music blogger-journalist, and you’ll most likely get a “huh? who?” Which is really a shame, because these Canadian roots rockers have been consistently churning out high quality Americana-tinged music that deserves a much wider audience in the U.S. (Can you say Americana if the band hails from Canada? Or would that be Canadianacana? How ’bout North Americana?)

I say in the U.S. because they’re pretty big stars in their home country: Over the course of their two-and-a-half-decade-and-counting career, they’ve sold over four million records, racked up an unprecedented five Juno Awards as Group of the year, been given the keys to the city of Toronto, and have a featured star on Canada’s Walk of Fame (also in Toronto), only the fifth band to receive that honor.

The Things We Left Behind, released on the band’s own Telesoul Records, is about as ambitious an album as you could hope for given the stage Blue Rodeo is at in its career (see the above plaudits). It’s their 12th studio album (they’ve also released three live recordings, one greatest hits package and five video/DVDs), and it boasts 16 songs spread out over two CDs, a great collection of tuneage you won’t hear anywhere other than on this album (or during a live show), unless a hip friend turns you onto ’em, or if you hear ’em on an iPod playlist somewhere (mix CD?). It’s also being released in a vintage vinyl format, replete with gatefold packaging (and with CD copies of the album included, and a lyrics insert to boot!). It stands with the the best of their work, including 1997’s Tremelo, 1993’s Five Days In July, and 1991’s Casino.

Dad rock? Sure, it’s that, I guess. Not sure I’m really down with that term, because it takes what used to be strengths (songcraft, musicianship, professionalism), and paints them with a negative brush. What you get are big anthemic rockers (the opening “All The Things That Are Left Behind”), great guitar workouts (“Never Look Back”), blistering countrified reels (“One More Night”), soulful Stonesy numbers (“Sheba,” “Don’t Let the Darkness In Your Head”), ballads (“you Said”), road songs (“Arizona Dust”), pseudo psychedelic workouts (“Venus Rising”) and extended folk jams (“Million Miles”). It helps when you have two songwriters as consistently great as Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, who are obviously trying to push themselves creatively. The results are pretty impressive, and the quality is definitely not overshadowed by the quantity.

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